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U.S. Issues Warning on Travel to Flood-Hit Thailand

The United States on Thursday issued a warning to its nationals to avoid all but essential travel to parts of Thailand hit by floods, but pointed out that many tourist hotspots were unaffected.

Thousands of Bangkok residents fled the capital on Thursday ahead of a mass of approaching floodwater. The city's metropolitan area and 20 provinces are affected by the extensive flooding, the State Department said.

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U.S. Says Pakistan Allowing Insurgent Fire on Its Troops

Pakistani forces are allowing insurgents to launch rocket and mortar attacks on U.S. troops across the border in Afghanistan and may be collaborating with the militants, a U.S. general said Thursday.

The rocket fire targeting American forces often originates within sight of border posts manned by Pakistan's Frontier Corps, said Lieutenant General Curtis Scaparrotti, deputy commander of the NATO-led force in Afghanistan.

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Bangkok Exodus as Floods Advance on City Center

Thousands of Bangkok residents flocked to bus, rail and air terminals Thursday while heavy traffic snaked out of the sprawling Thai capital in an exodus from a mass of approaching floodwater.

Water was seeping into central areas of the city of 12 million people, entering the grounds of the Grand Palace after the main Chao Phraya river overflowed at high tide, but most of downtown Bangkok was still dry.

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Panetta Skeptical about Talks with N. Korea

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expressed skepticism Thursday about the outcome of his country's talks with North Korea, days after a second round of discussions was held in Geneva.

The talks on Monday and Tuesday, following up a meeting in New York in July, were intended to pave the way for the resumption of six-nation negotiations on the North's nuclear disarmament.

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Thousands Clash with Police in China, 'Up to 8 Dead'

Thousands of people have clashed with police and smashed cars in eastern China after protests over taxes turned violent, a rights group said Thursday, while authorities put the number in the hundreds.

Several police were hurt in the riots, which began as a protest by business owners over taxes in the eastern Chinese city of Huzhou in Zhejiang province, according to an official statement posted on a local government website.

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Pope Denounces Religious Terrorism

Pope Benedict XVI denounced religiously-motivated terrorism at a meeting with 300 leaders of world religions in Assisi Friday aimed at repudiating violence in the name of God.

"We know that terrorism is often religiously motivated and that the specifically religious character of the attacks is proposed as a justification for the reckless cruelty that considers itself entitled to discard the rules of morality for the sake of the intended 'good'," he said.

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Four Killed in Rocket Attack in Kenya

Attackers fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a vehicle and killed four people in northern Kenya Thursday, police said.

"The vehicle was carrying eight people but four of them have died," a police officer in the region said on condition of anonymity.

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Attackers Hit U.S.-Run Base in Afghanistan's Kandahar

Taliban armed with guns and explosives struck a U.S.-run base in Kandahar on Thursday, where blasts and gunfire reverberated in the southern Afghan city, police and witnesses said.

A group of "three to four" armed men, possibly with suicide vests, had taken up positions in an empty compound that was once used by the USAID development agency and were firing on the base, according to police.

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Snowfall Complicates Quake Rescue Efforts in Turkey as Toll Passes 500

Snow blanketed eastern Turkey Thursday, complicating rescue efforts and bringing more misery for the thousands left homeless by a devastating earthquake as the death toll surged past 500.

Ninety-one hours after disaster struck in the eastern province of Van, rescuers pulled a 19-year-old from the rubble in the town of Ercis but the prospects of finding more people alive were fading fast.

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Polls Open in Ireland's Presidential Election

The polls opened Thursday in Ireland's presidential election, with more than three million voters eligible to cast their ballots to choose the republic's ninth president.

Polling stations opened at 7:00am (06:00 GMT) and were to close at 10:00pm (21:00 GMT). Seven candidates are standing, representing the largest-ever field for the post.

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